Amazon has officially announced a new wrist-worn wearable, and in an unusual move, has actually scaled down its use of biometric technology (to a certain extent).
To be clear, the usual biometric sensors leveraged in fitness tracking applications are in place in Amazon’s new Halo View. It has an optical heart rate sensor, and can also track skin temperature and blood oxygen levels as well as sleep metrics.
But the device no longer automatically scans voice biometrics. That capability was a feature of the previous iteration of Amazon’s fitness tracking wristband, the Halo Band, which had an always-on microphone that would record end users voices and analyze them for emotional signals.
The feature is still available to users who want it, via the Halo smartphone app; but the fact that it is not built into the wristband suggests that Amazon is taking a more cautious approach to biometric technologies that might seem excessively intrusive to privacy-conscious consumers.
To some, that might seem out of character for Amazon, which has demonstrated an unbridled enthusiasm for biometrics in certain other ventures. The company recently proved to be a pioneer in biometric payments technology with a new palm-scanning Point-of-Sale solution that lets shoppers make purchases with the wave of a hand, and has also been deeply involved in providing biometric technology to police agencies (though it put a moratorium on those activities last summer).
In any case, the company is evidently keen to remain competitive in the fitness-tracking wearables space. In addition to the Halo View’s biometric capabilities, it features an AMOLED screen, 50-meter water resistance, and a seven-day battery life. The device will also come with a free one-year membership to Amazon’s Halo Fitness platform, which includes Peloton-style workout videos and access to certain advanced analytics and other special features.
The Halo View will be available in three colors (green, purple, and black), and will be available later this year at a price point of $79.99.